Cassville is located in the extreme southwest of Missouri, sitting adjacent to the northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas state borders. It’s about an hour away from the nearby cities of Joplin and Carthage and about two and a half hours, 130 miles, from Elohim City, Oklahoma.
It was in Cassville that William Maloney operated a real estate brokerage office. In the fall of 1994, Maloney had advertised for sale forty acres of property in the Ozark Mountains. Sometime from October 25th to 27th, 1994, Maloney’s office received a phone call inquiring about that property.
The caller expressed an interest in purchasing the property and Maloney wrote down the caller’s name. Maloney recalled that he asked the caller to repeat his last name, and that the caller told him “McVeigh.” Maloney spelled the name back to the caller, saying “M-C-V-E-Y.” According to Maloney, the caller responded “That’s close enough.”
Thus begins William Maloney’s fateful encounter with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The phone call wouldn’t be the last time that Maloney heard from McVeigh. In fact, he would come face to face with the bomber and co-conspirator Terry Nichols, with a third accomplice, in the first week of November.
William Maloney and Joe Davidson were working at Maloney’s realty office on the morning of November 2nd, 1994 when three men in a white late 70’s model Monte Carlo pulled into the parking lot. One man remained in the vehicle while the other two got out and went inside.
The two men who went inside the office introduced themselves to Bill Maloney as Bob Jacquez and Terry Nichols. Maloney related that “they was just nice and calm,” just a couple of potential buyers as far as Maloney was concerned. After a few minutes of discussion the third man who had stayed in the car at first finally came into the office and introduced himself as Tim. The group was there, they told Maloney, to discuss their mutual interest in the forty acre parcel in the Ozarks that McVeigh had called about two weeks prior.
During the conversation, Maloney observed that it appeared Jacquez was the leader of group, saying “Jacquez was very articulate; he was smart. He did about all the talking, and during that period of time, he was in charge. He was the boss man.” Maloney’s business partner, Joe Davidson, was equally observant of the scene, saying “He [Jacquez] seemed to be the one that was in control and in charge of what was going on.” The unusual trio of supposed buyers did not tell Bill Maloney why they were interested in buying land that had been advertised as “in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a rough road, at the bottom of a hollow” with the addendum that “there may be a cave.”
Maloney said that at the time he was curious what the men were interested in, asking the question “Were they looking for a place to hide?” Joe Davidson noted that the men chuckled at the question but provided no verbal response. Later, Oklahoma FBI agent Bob Ricks would express a similar sentiment to a documentary film crew:
“The theory there was that Timothy McVeigh was searching for a place to perhaps have a hide-out and Robert Jacquez was utilized to perhaps obtain property in Missouri. It’s very remote terrain, it’s terrain familiar — there are a lot of right wing groups around there, from Elohim City Oklahoma to other groups in Arkansas to the Ozarks in Missouri which would be the perfect type spot.”
In discussing the geography surrounding the for-sale property, Maloney had Jacquez handle a new laminated topographical map of the area and afterwards he put the map in his safe. Maloney provided the map to the FBI during his first interview, hoping it may turn up fingerprints that could identify the man he saw as being in charge that day. It is unknown what became of this map: once it was in the FBI’s hands, it disappeared. As with the Murrah building surveillance tape videos, Maloney’s map with its possible fingerprint evidence has disappeared from the investigatory record, never to appear at trial.
Maloney told FBI Special Agent Bill Teater that Robert Jacquez was a muscular man with large biceps and a bulging neck, standing about 5’11 and said that “he looked like a military guy. I spent a long time in the service and I can pretty well spot ’em. He was real muscular; he looked maybe like a weightlifter.” Maloney’s description, given during his witness interview, was documented by the FBI in what is called a 302 report. In general, an FBI 302 report contains information about what a witness said to the interviewing Special Agent and includes whatever details the interviewing agent deems relevant to an investigation. Maloney’s 302 report details that Jacquez was wearing black pants, a black t-shirt, and olive colored hiking boots with small “suction cups” on the soles. He had a tattoo visible on his left forearm that had wings or some sort of insignia, possibly military. Jacquez had a short “flat-top” type haircut and a dark tanned complexion, described as “possibly American Indian.” This detail is notable — McVeigh was, by all accounts, a white-supremacist as were the vast majority of other potential suspects suggested as possible co-conspirators within alternative accounts of the bombing. Who was this dark skinned man, described as the evident “boss” of McVeigh?
The FBI considered Maloney and Davidson’s account significant enough to submit Maloney to a polygraph test, which he passed. The FBI also took the unusual step of placing Maloney’s secretary, Nora Young, under hypnosis in an effort to recall potentially more details about the encounter. They commissioned the “OKBOMB” task force’s sketch artist, Jean Boylan, to produce a sketch based on Maloney’s description. There was an unusual level of secrecy surrounding the sketch of the suspect, with an FBI teletype about the suspect containing the disclaimer “CAUTION: SENSITIVE INFORMATION: THIS SKETCH OF JACQUES IS ON A “NEED TO KNOW” BASIS AND HAS NEVER BEEN RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC, THE MEDIA, OR EVEN OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. PROTECT.”
Unlike the other sketches produced for the task force, this one was not widely circulated and appears to convey a level of sensitivity and significance that is uncommon in the bombing case. One source told this writer that Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief John Solomon interviewed a senior Customs Agency rep at OKC for the investigation, and that he told Solomon that the FBI were not real concerned about John Doe #2 reports, but they were really worried about John Doe #3, or “Robert Jacquez,” getting media attention. This is obvious enough from the bureau’s unusual disclaimer that is plastered all over November 1995 teletypes concerning the suspect. The notion that Jacquez could have been connected to some sort of sensitive operation comes to mind when you consider the unusual level of secrecy surrounding the sketch, and FBI investigators’ worry over the suspect receiving media attention.
The Manhunt for “John Doe #3”
The timing of the Jacquez visit to Cassville was reason enough for FBI investigators to suspect the man was a key conspirator in the bombing plot: just three days after the visit to Cassville, McVeigh was checked into a hotel in Kent, Ohio attending the Niles Gun Show while accomplices were busy carrying out the robbery of gun dealer Roger Moore in Royal, Arkansas.
Just five days after the Cassville visit, Terry Nichols rented a storage locker in Council Grove, Kansas where many of Roger Moore’s stolen firearms were kept. The Moore robbery was directly linked to funding the Oklahoma City bombing, with $60,000 worth of guns and precious metals stolen to raise funds for the bombing.
At the time of the Cassville visit, McVeigh had spent the previous month gathering bomb components: three 55-gallon barrels of nitromethane and 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate had already been sourced and secured in storage lockers. So, too, had McVeigh and Nichols burglarized a quarry for over 350 pounds of Tovex high explosive and blasting caps. Clearly, whoever this Jacquez figure was, he was with McVeigh and Nichols in the middle of the bombing operation when central actions were being carried out in furtherance of the bombing conspiracy.
FBI lead investigator Danny Defenbaugh would continue the Robert Jacquez investigation for five years, much longer than the FBI’s prematurely aborted manhunt for John Doe #2. This indicates that the FBI believed that John Doe #2—a man seen at Elliott’s Body Shop with someone witnesses identified as Timothy McVeigh—was a separate and different person than the man witnesses described as Robert Jacquez and it also indicates that the FBI considered Jacquez to be of great importance given the length of time and man hours invested in investigating him.
The results of a Rocky Mountain News investigation into the Jacquez manhunt was published in the fall of 1998 and revealed that in the three years since the bombing, the FBI had been relentlessly looking for the suspect. Investigative journalist Kevin Flynn wrote that “No other name investigated in the bombing consumed nearly the time and effort the FBI spent turning the nation upside down to find him” and Flynn provided many examples, some recounted here:
Over a three year period, the FBI performed hundreds of background checks on people whose last names are Jacks, Jacques, Jacquez or Jocques.
FBI agents fanned out through 39 states, interviewing people and performing records searches related to any people whose names were variations on the name “Jacquez”
The lengths to which the FBI went when investigating Jacquez are exemplified by the investigation of a woman named Linda Jacquez from Percy, Illinois. The FBI examined records of over 1,000 personal calls made from her home in 1994. Similar records analysis was likely performed on the other hundreds of subjects whose names were Jacquez or variations thereof.
A man named Jacquez who lived in Colorado Springs was interviewed by the FBI in August 1995 because agents had found his name on a motel registration card at a Days Inn in Rogers, Arkansas dated September 5th, 1994. While the man was found to have had no connection to the bombing, some clues regarding the FBI’s interest emerge from the details: Rogers, Arkansas is located just 35 miles from Cassville, Missouri. Additionally, and perhaps significantly, a group of bank robbers that FBI investigators at one time linked to the bombing had been through Rogers, Arkansas casing armored car routes.
The FBI subpoenaed Newsweek for its subscription records on anyone named Robert Jacks, Jacques or Jocques. Other contemporary news magazines were probably similarly the recipients of targeted subpoenas.
It appears that the FBI’s all-encompassing investigation was in some respects superficial: the FBI investigated every person and conceivable record that might feature the name “Jacquez” (and variations thereof) even though “Jacquez” was probably a fake name that the man had used. Surely FBI investigators would have realized this, but nevertheless continued to track down any and all details they could related to the phony name.
Unresolved Leads and Dead Ends
Among the details uncovered when investigating Jacquez was that McVeigh buddy Michael Fortier’s former neighbor and associate Jim Rosencrans once shared a post office box with a “Robert Jacquez” in Odessa, Texas. This fact did little to contribute to understanding the man’s true identity—only denials were offered from Rosencrans with him saying that he had never heard of anyone using the name Jacquez in spite of evidently having shared a mail box with the man. Thus, this possible lead remains unresolved to the satisfaction of anyone curious enough to consider the lead possibly relevant. Who was it, and why wasn’t Rosencrans more thoroughly “motivated” to provide answers? Was the mailbox detail a red herring?
Yet another bizarre fact emerged concerning Jacquez as it relates to suspects in the investigation: the FBI discovered an address book in Terry Nichols’ home which featured the name “Jacquez” written out multiple times with variations on the spelling: Jacques, Jacquez, Jacks. The handwriting on the paper was thought to belong to Marife Nichols, Terry Nichols’ mail order bride from the Philippines, because the address book belonged to her. However, what exactly Marife (or someone else) was doing writing this name down on an otherwise blank page in her address book remains unknown and incredibly suspect. When interviewed about this unusual detail by Kevin Flynn of the Rocky Mountain News, former FBI lead investigator in the bombing case, Weldon Kennedy, claims he wasn’t even aware of the notebook or the writing found within it. This fact either shows a stunning level of ignorance and possible incompetence by the OKBOMB task force’s supposed leader, or, dishonesty. Kennedy would add “For the life of us, we were never able to pin (the Jacquez sighting) down.” Consider the fact that Weldon Kennedy lied about a significant detail of the investigation in his book, On Scene Commander, where Kennedy wrote that “the case would primarily be based on forensic evidence because there were no eyewitnesses.” Contrast that with the established fact that there were over 24 eyewitnesses in downtown Oklahoma City who saw Timothy McVeigh and a judgment about Weldon Kennedy’s honesty can be rendered.
Ultimately the Jacquez leads were followed up on exhaustively over at least five years with no identification of the suspect being made. One of the obvious problems with the FBI’s seemingly exhaustive investigation was that the focus appeared to be on potential suspects whose actual real names were “Robert Jacquez” or variations thereof when it’s highly probable that the name was just an alias that the mystery man had used. This fact would prove to be the likely reason FBI investigators were stymied when trying to identify the man. Contributing to this failure is the fact that certain leads appear to not have been examined more aggressively: the Rosencrans lead, the notebook found in Nichols’ home, and finally, the fingerprint evidence.
Though Maloney turned over a laminated map with the “Jacquez” fingerprints on it, the FBI doesn’t appear to have compared those fingerprints to the 1,035 fingerprints collected in the case from key locations such as motel rooms. This is known due to the testimony of FBI fingerprint expert Louis Hupp who testified at the Nichols trial. Hupp’s testimony reveals that none of the 1,035 fingerprints collected had been run through the NCIC or FBI fingerprint database for a match. Worse, they failed to check to see if any of the 1,035 fingerprints matched with one another. Doing that would have allowed the FBI to determine if one or more persons were present at multiple locations, placing that person with McVeigh during the bombing conspiracy and confirming that the prints belong to a likely accomplice. Shockingly, Hupp testified that the bombing task force’s leadership had decided that attempting to identify the other fingerprints “would not be necessary.” This failure of diligence is an outrage and can only be explained by two possibilities: incompetence or, the FBI had reason to not want to identify the other suspects. The latter explanation brings with it a host of uncomfortable questions.
The FBI’s failed Jacquez investigation would later cause McVeigh’s execution to be delayed after it was discovered that the FBI had withheld from defense attorneys the full facts concerning the five year manhunt. On May 9th, 2001, the FBI officially disclosed to Timothy McVeigh’s defense attorneys—just six days before his execution date—that it had failed to turn over around 3,000 pages of documents during McVeigh’s trial. A week later, it was reported that many of the withheld documents were “witness statements and photographs relating to a mysterious person known as Robert Jacquez.”
At one point during the FBI investigation the Robert Jacquez sketch was compared by FBI investigators to sketches of suspects from a bank robbery investigation called “BOMBROB.” A November 1st, 1995 teletype from the St. Louis field office sent to the director of the FBI and eight field offices details the comparison.
The teletype describes an October 1995 broadcast of “America’s Most Wanted” which featured sketches of bank robbers responsible for a series of bank robberies that were under investigation. Agents assigned to the OKBOMB investigation noted a strong similarity between one of the bank robber sketches and the Jacquez sketch.
The bank robber sketch depicted a suspect from an August, 16th 1995 robbery of a bank in Bridgeton, Missouri. The robbers who had carried out the Bridgeton, MO robbery had left a newspaper clipping about Timothy McVeigh in the back-seat of the drop car they had used for the robbery, further igniting suspicions among the investigating agents. That bank robber would later be identified as Richard Lee Guthrie, founder of a white supremacist terrorist group called “The Aryan Republican Army.”
The investigators asked: was Jacquez the same man being sought in the bank robbery investigation? Take a look for yourself, and ask, are these suspects one and the same?
The November 1st teletype also makes additional comparisons between the “Jacquez” suspect’s distinctive jungle boots—described in detail by Bill Maloney—and the distinctive boots worn by bank robber Richard Guthrie when he purchased a getaway vehicle in Alton, Illinois in December of ’94.
Was “Jacquez” the same person who robbed the bank in Missouri who had left a clipping about McVeigh in the back seat of the robbers’ drop car?
Nearly a year after the November 1, 1995 teletype, the Oklahoma City Bombing task force investigators would continue to examine possible links between Jacquez and the bank robbery gang that Guthrie had belonged to. Examining FBI interviews with one member of the bank robbery gang, Kevin McCarthy, shows that apparent interest. A September 20, 1996 FBI interview by SA Bill Teater shows that McCarthy was asked about “any knowledge he may have regarding individuals involved in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.” SA Teater was the same FBI agent who had interviewed the witnesses at Maloney Real Estate, and was thus the point man in the Jacquez investigation.
During the interview, McCarthy was asked about people he associated with or had seen at Elohim City, a racial separatist compound. Guthrie had visited Elohim City throughout the early to mid 90s and was well known to McCarthy, having participated in numerous bank robberies with him.
During McCarthy’s interview, SA Teater asked McCarthy if anyone he knew had ever traveled to Missouri for the purpose of locating rural property, or if he knew anyone that might have been ex-military. He was shown the sketch of Robert Jacquez and asked if it looked like anyone he knew. Teater asked McCarthy if he knew anyone named “Robert or Bob Jacquez.” The FBI 302 report of the interview says that McCarthy “thought for a few moments and replied that he really could not think of anyone he personally knew by that name” but added that “the name was one he had heard before.”
The most illuminating part of the interview comes from Teater’s line of questioning regarding Jacquez’ appearance. Recall that witness Maloney described Jacquez as dark-skinned and “possibly American Indian” while another witness, Barbara Whittenberg, had said that the man she saw with McVeigh and Nichols on April 15th (speculated to be the same person as Jacquez) was dark skinned and “possibly Hawaiian.” By all accounts the muscular Jacquez figure was not Caucasian. Teater asked McCarthy if he knew anyone matching this description, or if anyone like that had been at Elohim City. McCarthy answered that he did not associate with people matching that description and that “anyone matching that description would not have been welcome at Elohim City.”
Indeed, the bank robbery suspect whose sketch resembled the Jacquez sketch—Richard Guthrie—was a Caucasian. Though he sometimes had a tan, it stretches the bounds of credibility to think that he would be mistaken for an American Indian or a Pacific Islander. Likewise, a person fitting that description would be an unlikely figure to be found among the white supremacists to be found at Elohim City and within McCarthy and Guthrie’s social circle.
Ultimately, Guthrie just doesn’t fit the description of Jacquez in spite of similarities between his sketch and the sketch of Jacquez. For example, Richard Guthrie did not look like a body builder, did not have a “thick neck” or a powerful build. He was 5 foot 7, where Jacquez was described as near 6 feet tall.
After an examination of the facts, it appears that Guthrie can be ruled out as having been Jacquez. Like the Rosencrans lead, the possible identification of Guthrie as Jacquez would become a dead end.
Other Witnesses to the “Jaquez” Suspect
The FBI’s OKBOMB investigation uncovered multiple witnesses whose statements to the FBI indicate that the man Maloney and Davidson saw with McVeigh and Nichols calling himself Robert Jacquez may have been seen by other people in the days and weeks prior to the bombing.
For example, a man matching Maloney and Davidson’s description(s)—in both physical appearance and behavior—was seen the day before bombing by Oklahoma City postal workers Michael Klish, Debbie Nakanashi, and Karen Reece. Nakanashi told the FBI that the day before the bombing, McVeigh and another man had been at the post office branch across the street from the Murrah building. Nakanashi’s account is important to reference here because Nakanashi’s memory of the man’s behavior and appearance so closely matches that of the man calling himself Robert Jacquez that Maloney and Davidson had encountered just five months prior. Nakanashi told the FBI that the man with McVeigh “walked with a military bearing.” Using words almost identical to those used by Maloney to describe the man, Nakanashi said that “it was obvious to me this other man was the one that was in control of the situation, he was the boss.”
Another witness who may have encountered the enigmatic “Robert Jacquez” was restaurant owner Barbara Whittenberg. Whittenberg was the proprietor of the Sante Fe Trail diner located just off route 77 in Kansas. On Saturday, April 15th, 1995 she served breakfast to Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and a third man who has never been identified. Noting a Ryder moving truck in the parking lot, Whittenberg asked the group if one of them was moving, and where to. The third man replied, telling her “Oklahoma City.” Whittenberg replied that she had relatives in a town south of Oklahoma City, making friendly small talk with the group. According to Whittenberg, the remark immediately stopped the conversation dead in its tracks—“McVeigh looked at him and you could feel buckets of ice being poured over our conversation. I got out of it.”
When Whittenberg was shown the “John Doe #2” sketch, she said that the third man she served breakfast to that morning looked different, saying “his face was thinner, his cheekbones more prominent, and his nose wider” than what the sketch depicted. However, when she was shown the sketch of “Robert Jacquez” she made a more positive identification, telling a CNN reporter “Yes. This is the closest picture I’ve seen yet!” Using language almost identical to Bill Maloney, Whittenberg recalled that the man she had seen was “darker skinned” and had a “thick neck,” looking “like a bodybuilder.” She said that the man was “possibly Hawaiian,” accounting for SA Bill Teater using that descriptor when asking bank robber Kevin McCarthy about Jacquez.
It is important to note that Whittenberg’s account of what she had seen appeared in reports from The New York Times in the fall of 1995, the Washington Post in April of 1996, a May 1996 issue of The New American magazine, the June 4th edition of McCurtain Gazette, followed by a citation and quote in the June 23rd 1996 edition of the Kansas City Star. The Associated Press would issue a syndicated report throughout all national newspapers on March 9, 1997, and the same month Whittenberg’s account would feature prominently in a TIME magazine article. Whittenberg’s media exposure, and the thus the exposure of the reality of the third suspect she had seen, was at an apex in 1997. That’s when the death threats started. Yes, death threats.
Whittenberg would later testify in 1997 before the grand jury impaneled to investigate the bombing that she began receiving death threats telling her to keep her mouth shut. At that time she told a Daily Oklahoman newspaper reporter covering the grand jury proceedings that “I’ve started to regret I ever said a thing,” adding, “I don’t do telephone interviews any more. I used to not be that way. I’m sorry.”
Who was this man, described by witnesses as the evident boss of McVeigh? His identity was sensitive enough for FBI teletypes to issue a disclaimer noting that the sketch was sensitive and on a “NEED TO KNOW” basis, to be withheld from newsmedia and other law enforcement agencies and media exposure about the man caused at least one witness to receive death threats. Terry Nichols, too, would express apparent fear concerning the identification of these other suspects.
Nichols Fears for His Life, Stonewalls
Additional confirmation that this Jacquez figure was a sensitive suspect emerges after an analysis of a batch of FBI documents stemming from 2005 interviews with convicted bomber Terry Nichols. In 2005, Nichols was interviewed by the FBI numerous times in relation to explosives and other evidence that he revealed were preserved and buried under his former Herington, Kansas home. Some of the revelations gleaned from those 2005 interviews as they relate to Robert Jacquez and John Doe #2 are relevant to the “Robert Jacquez” story but they offer more questions than they do answers.
During the 2005 interviews, Nichols told the FBI where they could locate explosives he said were buried under his former Herington home. During the interviews concerning these explosives, Nichols would tell the FBI that John Doe #2 exists and that he knows his identity, but would not reveal it out of fear for his family’s safety. Nichols said that the man’s name had not been revealed or mentioned by anyone at that time, and implied that the man or those whom he represents presented an immediate threat to his life and that of his family members.
Nichols was equally evasive about the enigmatic Robert Jacquez. Nichols said in his interviews that he had visited Missouri looking to buy real estate, but that only he and McVeigh had been there. Nichols’ description of the visit entirely omits Robert Jacquez from the narrative as if he wasn’t there. Assuming the 302 report is accurate, what prompted Nichols to exclude Jacquez from the narrative? The man clearly exists based on the solid accounts from Bill Maloney, Joe Davidson, and Nora Young. So, too, did the existence of a slip of paper recovered from Nichols’ home with the name “Jacquez” scrawled on it raise serious questions about the likelihood that the man was involved in a criminal conspiracy with McVeigh and Nichols.
Ultimately, what can be concluded based on the witness testimony, polygraph results, and FBI documents is that Robert Jacquez was involved with McVeigh and Nichols—perhaps on more than one occasion—and that for some reason, Terry Nichols is covering for this person in denying his presence. Like John Doe #2, Nichols may be fearful of the man or who he represents, and this may account for his silence on the matter. And so it remains a key mystery in the case whose answers may lie locked away with Terry Nichols.
Who was the man who called himself “Robert Jacquez,” seen with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in November 1994? What became of the fingerprint evidence that Maloney turned over to the FBI and why wasn’t it compared to the fingerprints collected in the case? Was the man spotted by Maloney and Davidson the same man seen with McVeigh the day prior to the bombing by Debbie Nakanashi? Was it the same man spotted with McVeigh and Nichols by Barbara Whittenberg on April 15th? Why was Nichols so evidently fearful concerning these suspects? Why did the FBI enact such secrecy surrounding the Jacques sketch, and fear subsequent media coverage of the suspect? Just who the hell was Robert Jacquez?
Many of the details concerning “Robert Jacquez” were sourced from a handful of media accounts concerning the suspect that emerged in 1997–98, and again in 2001 when accounts concerning withheld documents emerged. Here is a suggested reading list for students of the case curious about this suspect:
“Report: FBI Looking for Man Seen With Bombing Suspects.” Associated Press, 9 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Searches For Third Man.” CNN, 9 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Reportedly Looking For Man In Bombing.” Associated Press, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“3rd Man Sought in Bomb Probe.” Associated Press, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Man Linked to McVeigh Nichols During Land Inquiry Is Sought.” Buffalo News, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Mystery Man Linked to McVeigh Broker Believes Trio Sought Hideout.” Cincinatti Post, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Report: FBI Searching for McVeigh Cohort.” Daily News [Los Angeles], 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Reportedly Seeks Man Seen with McVeigh, Nichols.” Dallas Morning News, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Looking for Man Who Sought Hideout With Suspects in Blast.” Houston Chronicle, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Seeks Man With McVeigh.” Spokane Spokesman-Review, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Man Linked to McVeigh, Nichols During Land Inquiry Is Sought.” The Buffalo News, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Seeks Suspects’ Companion.” The Salina Journal, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Who Is Robert Jacquez?” TIME, 17 Mar. 1997. [link]
“OKC Case Still Missing a Link.” Rocky Mountain News, 21 Apr. 1998. [link]
“John Doe 2 It’s Still an Open Question.” Kansas City Star, 4 Jun. 1998. [link]
“Conspiracy Theory Lingers in Oklahoma City Attack.” Kansas City Star, 6 Jun. 1998. [link]
“More McVeigh Files Found: FBI Orders Massive Search.” Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2001. [link]
“Were There Others?” ABC News, 30 May 2001. [link]
Gumbel, Andrew, and Roger Charles. Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters. HarperCollins, 2012, pp. 212–216, 255, 309
Richard Booth is an independent citizen journalist and member in good standing with the Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). A student of the OKC bombing case since 1995, Richard began researching the Oklahoma City bombing in earnest in 2012 and is currently writing a book about the case. Richard has appeared on podcasts to discuss his interest, highlighting areas that warrant additional research and expressing the need for more students to actively research this case. In April 2020, Richard donated his archive of research materials—thousands of news reports, articles, magazine pieces, FBI documents, ATF documents, court records and trial transcripts to The Libertarian Institute. You can find this archive here. You may contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally featured at Medium and is republished with permission.
Today, closed-circuit surveillance cameras are ubiquitous. You find them everywhere: at gas stations, stoplights, on government property, on private property. At the time of the April 19th, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, you could find surveillance cameras mounted at over a dozen properties in downtown Oklahoma City: the Regency Towers apartment building, the Journal Records Building, the Southwestern Bell building, the post office, and elsewhere. The properties surrounding the Alfred P. Murrah federal building were littered with surveillance cameras, some of which captured the April 19th, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing on film. That film has never been released to the public; however, what appears on the surveillance footage is described in documents, trial testimony, and news reports on the bombing.
The first reports concerning surveillance camera footage of the bombing aired on CNN within days of the attack. One early CNN report stated that “the FBI says that it has surveillance camera video of the bomb site.” That same week, CNN reported that “the FBI says that it has obtained videotapes from security cameras in the vicinity of the blast and may have tape of the Ryder rental truck used to house the enormous bomb.” Eight days after the bombing, a preliminary hearing held in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma confirmed the FBI’s possession of surveillance camera footage.
By the time of the April 27th, 1995 preliminary hearing, the primary suspect — Timothy McVeigh — was in custody. The preliminary hearing’s purpose was to show probable cause and a reasonable basis for proceeding in case no. CR-95–98, the United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh. Leading the charge in the government’s case at the preliminary hearing was Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Merrick Garland, a top aid to Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. Garland’s chief witness was FBI Special Agent Jon Hersley, who would go on to give testimony that would serve to confirm that the FBI had in its possession multiple surveillance camera recordings.
Special Agent Hersley would recount during the hearing that he had seen both video and photographs (still-image video frames) taken from surveillance recordings seized by the FBI. Hersley testified that one of the photos he had seen depicted a Ryder truck moving east on 5th street. That photo came from a surveillance camera identified as having come from the Regency Towers apartment complex. The Regency Towers was located less than a block from the Murrah Building and had an obstructed view of the north face, where the Ryder truck was parked.
Hersley’s testimony is worth citing here because it is so specific concerning footage that the FBI had seized during their investigation:
Q. So you say there is film available that shows the — a Ryder Truck in an easterly direction, that is traveling in an easterly direction on Fifth Street?
Q. Is it past the street that we know as Harvey?
A. I am not — I have not studied that film in detail. It’s in that general vicinity right in there. It may be the video that I saw. I believe it is just before — well, I am not sure. I better not say that.
Q. Well, Harvey Street —
A. I don’t know.
Q. Harvey Street is the street that is immediately west of the Murrah Building?
A. That is correct.
Q. Are the photographs that you saw or, is it still photo or film?
A. What I saw was the still photos.
Q. Is it a still photo that has been removed from a film?
Q. So it was a close-up more of the truck than it’s location?
A. It wasn’t a close-up photo, it was taken from a camera off one of the buildings in the vicinity.
Q. Did you make a determination of what building it came off of?
A. No, I did not myself.
Q. Okay, did anyone?
A. I believe one of the other agents was able to determine that it came from one — one of the filmscame from the Regency Tower Apartments.
Q. Was there a time indicated on the picture of the film that you saw?
Agent Hersley’s testimony clarifies that the FBI had multiple surveillance camera recordings from the area. When Hersley stated that “one of the films came from the Regency Towers Apartments,” his use of the word “films,” plural, indicates there was more than recording. In addition to having seen photos taken from a surveillance video depicting a Ryder truck on 5th street, Hersley testified that he had seen pictures depicting another location—a parking lot next to the Journal Records Building. Hersley testified at length about a key witness who had seen Timothy McVeigh—and another suspect—speeding away from an alley adjacent to the Journal Records Building. The seized surveillance footage had covered this vicinity.
Hersley’s testimony concerning the Journal Records building and associated surveillance footage is excerpted:
Q. Where did this witness see the yellow Mercury speeding away?
A. Over in the direction — in the parking lot, in an area where the witness I had previously testified about said that the individual he identified as Mr. McVeigh was walking in a northerly direction towards.
Q. Where is that parking lot, sir?
A. Over on the north side of Fifth Street, close to the Journal Record Building.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Q. This particular male witness has indicated that he saw the — a yellow Mercury speeding away?
Q. Did this particular witness indicate to agents of the FBI how many persons were in the speeding yellow Mercury?
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Q. I assume speeding away on Fifth Street; is that correct?
A. Well, I think it is actually the alley area that would be immediately north of Fifth Street.
Q. Immediately north of Fifth Street is a parking lot there. Are you talking about the —
A. The north side of that parking lot.
Q. So the alley between the Journal Record Building and the parking lot? I’m sorry to interrupt you, I didn’t mean to.
Are you talking about that area, that alley?
A. I’m talking about the area on the north side of the parking lot that we have been speaking about.
Q. That’s where you are telling the Court that the yellow Mercury was speeding through that particular alley?
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Q. In your review of the surveillance photos, did you find any surveillance photos of that parking lot across the street from the Murrah Building?
Q. Have you been shown a photograph of that particular parking lot, sir, across the street from the Murrah Building that includes the speeding Mercury in the photograph?
A. We don’t know for sure yet. Those photographs are not real clear. They are taken from a pretty good distance away. There appears to be a light-colored car in the very vicinity where this witness testifies — or provides the information was speeding away from. We are not able to determine yet if that is in fact the yellow Mercury.
Q. The pictures that you saw of that particular parking lot — now I’m talking about the parking lot across the street from the Murrah Building — in a northerly direction, that parking lot, there is a film of that parking lot prior to the time of the explosion?
Q. Is it time-stamped so that you can tell a particular time of day on the 19th of April that that camera is viewing, scanning that parking lot?
In addition to confirming that the FBI had in its possession surveillance camera footage, the April 27th preliminary hearing also clarifies that the FBI had multiple eyewitnesses to Timothy McVeigh—with an accomplice—in downtown Oklahoma City that morning. Agent Hersley’s testimony confirms this. He testifies no less than three times during the preliminary hearing words to the effect that “our primary focus right now is to try to determine the identity and the location of the other subjects.” Agent Hersley testifies at length concerning the eyewitness accounts of Gary Lewis, Rodney Johnson, Dena Hunt, and Mike Moroz. All four of these witnesses saw McVeigh with another person in downtown Oklahoma City. One of them, mechanic Mike Moroz, picked McVeigh out of an FBI lineup in downtown Oklahoma City within days of the bombing. Moroz saw and spoke to McVeigh up-close, giving him directions from Johnny’s Tire about 20 minutes before the bombing. According to Moroz, there was a passenger in the Ryder truck with McVeigh when he spoke to him that morning. That passenger has come to be known as John Doe #2.
The other suspect—John Doe #2—has never been captured, and the FBI today denies that he exists. The man’s identity remains a controversial subject, the basis of much speculation. What is certain is that many witnesses observed Timothy McVeigh with another person in downtown Oklahoma City and the surveillance footage of the bombing, described in the April 27th preliminary hearing, may depict that other suspect. Fueling speculation about this other suspect is Associate Deputy Attorney General Merrick Garland’s objections issued during the preliminary hearing whenever direct questions concerning surveillance camera footage or John Doe #2 came up:
Q. Who are those agents that are tasked with the responsibility of reviewing photographs and film footage?
MR. GARLAND: Objection, Your Honor. This is now purely speculative.
THE COURT: Overruled.
A. The agent that showed me the photographs was Walt Lamar.
Q. And is he the one that you inquired as to whether or not there were any photographs of the accused, Mr. Timothy McVeigh, in possession of the government, at or about the Ryder Truck? You asked him that question I assume; did you not?
A. I did not inquire of Agent Lamar about these photographs. He brought it to my attention because there is a possibility of a particular car being involved in one of those photographs that he was showing me. We are continuing investigation to try to determine the actual identity of that car.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
A. I know there was at least one male that observed the Ryder Truck and the occupants of the Ryder Truck. That person also advised that the individual in the truck closely resembled the individual depicted in composite one.
Q. Did you tell me he saw occupants of a Ryder Truck and there were more than one?
MR. GARLAND: Objection. The only person on trial at this hearing is Mr.McVeigh. It doesn’t matter whether there were two or a hundred people in that truck as long as there was somebody representing Mr. McVeigh there. It is discovery and totally outside the scope of this hearing.
MR. COYLE: May I respond? I think it is important to see if we distinguish it as the same truck or not. I think it is very important to the credibility of the witnesses and credibility of the evidence and what they saw as to whether or not the next person saw three or five or six or —
THE COURT: Objection overruled. Go ahead.
A. This witness advised that there were two individuals in the truck. The individual resembling Mr. McVeigh was the driver.
None of the surveillance videos mentioned in the CNN broadcasts or the April 27th preliminary hearing appeared at the McVeigh and Nichols federal trials in 1997 and 1998. It was as if they did not exist. Not introducing the surveillance tapes as evidence made little sense; If the FBI had a videotape showing McVeigh in Oklahoma City, that would constitute “best evidence” that could put McVeigh at the crime scene. The eyewitnesses who saw McVeigh in downtown Oklahoma City would also be damning evidence. Yet, none of those eyewitnesses were called to testify at trial. Was this because every one of these witnesses saw McVeigh with another person?
Four years after the bombing, after Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted, the full scope of the FBI’s surveillance footage of the bombing emerged. In 1999, during a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, it was revealed that the FBI had taken into possession nearly two dozen recordings from surveillance cameras in the downtown Oklahoma City area.
FOIA Lawsuits Over Secret Footage
A 1999 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by investigative journalist David Hoffman revealed that the FBI had twenty-two video surveillance recordings of the Murrah building and surrounding area stored at the FBI’s Oklahoma City field office. Curiously, a single surveillance tape was listed as housed under lock and key in Washington, D.C. at FBI headquarters. The central issue of Hoffman’s lawsuit was that the FBI had conceded to the existence of the surveillance camera footage but refused to release it pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. During Hoffman’s FOIA suit, FBI lawyers filed multiple motions for summary judgment—essentially asking the judge to throw the case out in their favor. Each subsequent motion filed by the Department of Justice cited entirely different reasons for withholding the material, seemingly coming up with new excuses with each motion. These motions were summarily dismissed with increasing criticism from the judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Court Judge Wayne Alley. Alley wrote that the FBI had put forward insufficient “justifications for withholding all materials in its investigative files concerning the Oklahoma City Bombing” and further stated that the FBI had exhibited “shoddy conduct” during the litigation.
Judge Alley wrote that “the court would be inclined” to compel the FBI to release the surveillance footage; however, ultimately, the judge ruled that he was unable to do so. A previous order issued by Judge Richard P. Matsch, presiding judge in the McVeigh and Nichols Federal trials, deemed that the surveillance camera footage from the bombing investigation was under seal because the McVeigh and Nichols trial convictions were subject to appeals. As a result, Judge Alley ruled that “the Court is presently powerless to grant plaintiff relief under FOIA” because of Judge Matsch’s ruling. However, Judge Alley would add that Hoffman “raises a legitimate point” that the federal criminal case against bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols was nearing an end. Thus Matsch’s order to seal the evidence would presumably expire as those cases and subsequent appeals ended. Judge Alley spells out this position by writing that the FBI’s “justification for its shroud of secrecy may likewise soon end.”
Hoffman’s suit wouldn’t be the last time the FBI would face legal challenges concerning the highly-secret footage. The video recordings seized by the FBI during the OKC bombing investigation are the central focus of an FOIA lawsuit litigated by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue. The FBI had sent Trentadue a batch of 30 recordings following a Freedom of Information Act request. However, Trentadue noted that the footage the FBI produced was of little value—it shows absolutely nothing of interest. The recordings released by the FBI do not show the Ryder truck parking, nor the suspects. Jesse Trentadue says the tapes are incomplete. “Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19th, 1995? There ain’t no such thing as a coincidence”, Trentadue told the Associated Press after receipt of the incomplete footage.
The FBI claims that the security cameras failed to record critical moments leading up to the blast because “they had run out of tape” or, improbably, because “the tape was being replaced.” Trentadue noted that “the interesting thing is [the tapes] spring back on after 9:02 A.M.” and that “the absence of footage from these crucial time intervals is evidence that there is something there that the FBI doesn’t want anybody to see.”
The surveillance tapes released to Trentadue appear to be incomplete, and this can be reasonably demonstrated based on what FBI and Secret Service documents from the bombing investigation say about the tapes. Additional insight into what appears on the recordings comes from statements by FBI agents and law enforcement personnel who have seen the footage.
FBI and Secret Service Officials: We Had McVeigh On Tape
Danny Coulson was the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Office and founder of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team. Coulson was one of the commanders of the OKC bombing investigation, in charge of the crime scene. In 1999, on a BookTV (C-SPAN) broadcast where agent Coulson is promoting his book No Heroes, Coulson said point-blank, “we had the videotape of the truck being pulled up a couple of minutes before nine” and that “we had him [McVeigh] on videotape.”
Supporting Coulson’s statement is a Secret Service timeline that says “security video shows the Ryder truck pulling up to the Federal Building then pausing (7–10 seconds) before resuming into a slot in front of the building.” Yet another entry in the Secret Service timeline says that “security video tapes from the area show the truck detonation 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck.” The use of the word “suspects,” plural, indicates that the footage recorded more than one person exiting the Ryder truck. The Secret Service timeline also presents a startling degree of specificity—“3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck” strongly suggests that the footage was such that it had a time-code or could otherwise be used to measure the passage of time in relation to what appears on the footage.
Additionally, an FBI inventory log of seized surveillance camera footage reviewed by FBI SA Pamela Matson for footage deemed “positive” in terms of evidentiary value denotes two recordings as “positive.” Footage considered “positive” in terms of evidentiary value would necessarily show the bombing, the suspects, or the suspects’ vehicles. Those two recordings are the footage from the Journal Records Building and the footage from the Southwestern Bell building. Additionally, both of the security cameras denoted in the FBI evidence log as having recorded footage deemed positive happened to be positioned in areas where key eyewitnesses described seeing Timothy McVeigh and other suspects in the moments before and after the blast.
For example, witness Gary Lewis told the FBI that he observed Timothy McVeigh and another man in a Mercury Marquis speeding past the Journal Records building moments before the blast. What he saw would presumably appear on the Journal Records building tape deemed positive. Similarly, Germaine Johnston told the FBI that she spotted McVeigh and another man standing next to the Mercury Marquis in an ally adjacent to the Southwestern Bell building immediately following the blast. Cameras position at the Southwestern Bell property would likely have recorded the ingress and egress points of the property, capturing the bombers on film. Likewise, surveillance cameras trained on 5th street would have depicted the Ryder truck bomb’s delivery described by agent Coulson, thus showing what the Secret Service timeline described in such exacting detail.
News Reports Cite Law Enforcement: Passenger Appears on Tapes
In addition to the FBI evidence log and Secret Service timeline, there are contemporary news media accounts published after the bombing where law enforcement sources familiar with the recordings describe what appears on the footage. An October 28th, 1995 Associated Press report headlined “Surveillance Tape Shows Shadowy Passenger in Bomb Truck” quoted one law enforcement official stating that the surveillance footage shows a passenger in the Ryder truck with McVeigh. The source of that footage was identified in the article as a security camera mounted on a nearby apartment building. That camera is presumably the Regency Towers apartment building’s camera, cited by FBI agent Hersley in the April 27th, 1995 preliminary hearing.
Yet other law enforcement officials saw surveillance footage taken from two cameras positioned near 5th street. These sources told a Los Angeles Times reporter and Oklahoma News Channel KFOR-4 TV reporter what they saw on the recordings. KFOR reporters Kevin Ogle and Brad Edwards relayed what sources told them in a broadcast that aired on KFOR-4 TV news in October 1995:
“A Ryder truck with two men inside of it parked at the bomb site in front of the Murrah building. The driver’s side door opens and McVeigh steps out, and walks away towards 5th street and the Journal Records building. The passenger stays inside the cabin for a period of time, then exits on foot in the same direction as McVeigh.”
Attempted Sale of Footage to Dateline: NBC
In a shocking development, an FBI agent tried to sell a copy of the Oklahoma City bombing surveillance footage to a major TV news program in the fall of 1995. FBI documents dated October 27th and October 30th detail how a Los Angeles based FBI agent tried to sell the surveillance footage to Dateline NBC for over one million dollars. A confidential source at the network contacted the FBI, and a report based on that contact is worth reproducing here in full:
“The source related that “Dateline,” an NBC television show, had been contacted by an unknown attorney representing a Los Angeles Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On behalf of the agent, the attorney offered to sell a copy of the surveillance tape recovered from Oklahoma City which shows the activity outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building just prior to the bomb blast.
It was represented that the video tape would contain time-lapse photography of the arrival and then departure of a UPS truck. Then a Ryder truck pulls up and a male resembling Timothy McVeigh is seen exiting the driver’s side of the Ryder truck and then walking away. The second male then walks away in the same direction as the first male.”
A December 1995 report published by Media Bypass magazine described the attempted sale and added additional details from FBI sources familiar with the investigation. The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) opened an investigation into the matter. The inquiry would seek to document the “chain of custody” for the FBI’s seized surveillance footage, identify agents with access, and identify the agent who attempted to make the sale. The Media Bypass report indicated that it was determined a Los Angeles FBI agent who possessed the footage was not assigned to the FBI’s OKBOMB case and was therefore not authorized to possess the footage. An FBI source who spoke to Media Bypass said that the agent attempting to profit from the tragedy “apparently obtained a copy of the video from a fellow agent in Oklahoma City.”
A Texas-based FBI agent familiar with the investigation told Media Bypass that an FBI agent based out of Oklahoma City was under investigation after allegedly running “off at least 12 copies of the videotape for friends and co-workers.” The agent said that “there may be dozens, if not hundreds of these surveillance videos now in circulation” and that “everyone is waiting for (the footage) to show up on ‘A Current Affair’ or ‘Hard Copy.’”
The Media Bypass feature on the attempted sale quotes an Oklahoma private investigator, Robert Jerlow, whose attorney, Randy Shadid, represented the agent trying to sell the tape. Jerlow told Media Bypass that the FBI agent screened the surveillance tape for Dateline at an Orange County deputy sheriff’s home in October of 1995. An FBI document from the investigation of the attempted sale seemingly confirms this, stating that “Dateline was able to view the videotape at the home of an Orange County Deputy Sheriff.” The 19-minute VHS tape was composed of video sourced from multiple surveillance cameras–”shot from several angles” by cameras mounted on buildings along 5th Street. The tape includes footage showing the truck pulling up to the Murrah building a couple of minutes before 9:00 A.M. and concludes with footage that shows the “actual initial detonation of the truck bomb.”
Ultimately, the sale of the surveillance footage to Dateline NBC never occurred, and no word on what happened to the FBI agent attempting to make the deal has emerged. However, it’s incredibly likely that the FBI pinpointed the agent who tried to sell the footage; the Media Bypass report and FBI documents from the investigation provide enough personal information about the L.A. based agent to identify him.
The FBI’s confidential source reveals numerous details about the agent who attempted to sell the footage to Dateline:
The agent was based out of the Los Angeles Field Office.
The agent was a GS-13. (pay grade)
The agent was a 16 year FBI veteran in 1995.
The agent was between the ages of 38–42 in 1995.
The agent was a former sniper instructor at Carlos Hathcock School.
The agent served in the U.S Marine Corps from 1982–1988.
During their investigation, the FBI would have recovered any extant unauthorized copies of the tape. However, the possibility remains that at least one person out there still may have a copy today.
The FBI’s release of incomplete footage and their assertion that footage depicting the bombing doesn’t exist is simply not credible in light of the known facts concerning the surveillance tapes. FBI agent Jon Hersley testified about two different recordings that produced still images of the Ryder truck and McVeigh’s Mercury Marquis during the April 27th, 1995 preliminary hearing. Reports published in the L.A. Times and by the Associated Press in October of 1995 indicate that surveillance footage exists, which shows a Ryder truck with two people in the truck. A Secret Service timeline states with an incredible degree of specificity that footage exists showing the Ryder truck park in front of the Murrah building. FBI agent Danny Coulson’s statements support this, with him having said, “we had a videotape of the truck being pulled up at a couple of minutes toward nine.” FBI agent Pamela Matson denoted at least two tapes being “positive” in terms of evidentiary value in her review of seized surveillance recordings. All of this indicates that these tapes exist, but there is something on the tapes that the FBI doesn’t want people to see. The question then arises, “What do the tapes show? Why is the FBI seeking to suppress this surveillance footage?”
The only conclusion is that the surveillance footage shows McVeigh was not alone the morning of the bombing—thus introducing the notion that others were involved who were never apprehended. That conclusion is reasonable, based at least in part on what the witnesses in downtown Oklahoma City saw that morning. FBI agent Danny Coulson told the BBC in 2007 that “we know there were 24 people that were interviewed by the FBI that said they saw Mr. McVeigh on April 19th with someone else…They told the agents what they saw, and the agents wrote it down. If only one person had seen that, or two or three…but twenty-four? Twenty-four people say, yes, I saw him [McVeigh] with somebody else? That’s pretty powerful.”’
Consider this: if the surveillance footage had shown Timothy McVeigh, alone, it probably would have aired on every news network across the country. The fact that this footage has never seen the light of day, despite having been documented at length, raises serious questions about the bombing. It’s time to release the tapes—in full, without redaction. Judging by the FBI’s past actions relating to these tapes, that is unlikely to occur.
Perhaps one day, someone out there who still has a copy of the footage will come forward and settle the case once and for all. However, even if that were to occur, it would be unlikely to settle the case with any level of certainty. With DeepFake technology and the increasing sophistication of CGI, there remains the possibility that any footage released today could be of unknown provenance; that is to say, any copy produced by authorities today could have been subject to material alteration.
If the footage is produced at this late date that is alleged to show the bombing (in full and without redaction), what appears would necessarily need to match what’s documented. What appears on the footage would need to match what the Secret Service timeline and news reports produced in 1995 say: a Ryder truck comes to a stop in front of the Murrah Building, and two men step out of the truck. Three minutes and six seconds after the suspects exit the truck, the truck bomb detonates. Should a tape miraculously appear and show something other than this, critics will rightly point out that what appears on the newly-produced footage doesn’t match what the evidence says is on the tapes. Ultimately, there exists so much evidence concerning these surveillance tapes that experts know what to expect should footage be released, and we also know what would not appear on genuine, unaltered footage: McVeigh, alone.
The story of the Murrah Federal Building surveillance tapes comes from a variety of sources, including CNN network news, contemporary accounts from newspapers, with specific details about the recordings found among FBI and Secret Service documents from the Oklahoma City Bombing investigation.
Find here a list of sources and links where you may examine the evidence for yourself.
TV News Reports:
April 1995 CNN broadcast <link> reports that “the FBI says that it has surveillance camera video of the bomb site”
April 1995 CNN broadcast <link> reports that “the FBI says that it has obtained videotapes from security cameras in the vicinity of the blast and may have tape of the Ryder rental truck used to house the enormous bomb”
October 1995 KFOR-4 TV Oklahoma City NBC affiliate news broadcast <Link>
BookTV: “Inside the FBI’s Secret Counter-Terror Force.” C-SPAN, 1999. <Link> — at 1hr 1m 30 seconds, FBI SA Danny Coulson says “We had videotape of the truck being pulled up at a couple minutes toward nine.”
Newspaper and Magazine Reports:
Michael J. Sniffen. “License Plate of McVeigh Caught On Tape, Vehicle Believed Used In Suspect’s Getaway.” The Buffalo News, 29 Apr. 1995. <Link>
Lawrence Myers. “A Closer Look.” Media Bypass, December 1995. Print. <Link>
J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay. “Videotape Won’t Help Theory.” McCurtain Daily Gazette, 12 Sep 1996. <Link>
“Some Witnesses Leery of Bombing Grand Jury.” Daily Oklahoman, 10 August 1997. Print. <Link>
Don Harkins. “Final Report Reveals FBI Has Fingerprints of John Doe #2; High Quality Pre-Blast Surveillance Tapes.” The Idaho Observer, 12 Dec. 2001. <Link>
James Patterson. “Time to unseal videotapes of Murrah Federal Building.” Indianapolis Star, 16 Nov 2002. Print. <Link>
John Solomon. “Document: Oklahoma City Bombing Was Taped.” Associated Press, 19 Apr. 2004. <Link>
Tim Talley. “Attorney: Oklahoma City Bombing Tapes Appear Edited.” Associated Press, 28 Sept. 2009. Print. pp. A3; <Link>
Dennis Romboy. “FBI Explanation of Missing Oklahoma City Bombing Tapes Not Credible, Judge Says.” Associated Press, 21 Mar. 2012. <Link>
“Witness: More Oklahoma City bombing videos may exist.” Associated Press, 30 Jul. 2014. <Link>
U.S. vs. Timothy McVeigh, № M-95–98-H (Western District of Oklahoma.) Preliminary Hearing, 27 Apr. 1995. <Link>
U.S. vs. Terry Nichols, № 96-CR-68 (D. Colorado), testimony of Germaine Johnston on 5 December 1997.
Hoffman v. DOJ, № 98–1733 (Western District of Oklahoma.) Order, 15 Dec. 1999 <Link> — This FOIA lawsuit over the surveillance tapes reveals the FBI has 23 recordings of the Murrah Building and surrounding area.
Hoffman v. DOJ, № 98–1733 (Western District of Oklahoma.) Order, 10 Jul. 2001 <Link> — Judge Wayne Alley’s ruling on the sealed surveillance tapes.
FBI and Secret Service Documents:
Secret Service document — OKBOMB timeline, 5/1/95, pp 73 <Link>
Secret Service document — OKBOMB timeline, 5/1/95, pp 79 <Link>
FBI document, inventory log, #174A-OC-56120 LCN #12649A, by SA Pamela A Matson <Link> — This inventory of seized surveillance footage deems at least two recordings “positive” — that is to say, they show the bombing and/or the bombers and the “bomb truck.”
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, D-4553, 4/19/95 interview Danny Payne w/ SA John Hippard re: Journal Records Building surveillance footage. <Link> Payne told Hippard tapes “may have obtained photographs of the persons responsiblefor the bombing.”
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, D-245, 4/22/95 interview Gary Lewis w/ SA Leslie E. Harris <Link> — observed McVeigh + JD2 in Mercury driving past Journal Records building.
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, D-1705 LCN #5654, 4/30/95 interview Gary Lewis. <Link> — observed McVeigh + JD2 in Mercury driving past Journal Records building.
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, E-8508 10/27/95 — Dateline NBC attempted sale of surveillance footage <Link>
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, E-8507 10/30/95 — Dateline NBC attempted sale of surveillance footage <Link>
Richard Booth is an independent citizen journalist and member in good standing with the Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). A student of the OKC bombing case since 1995, Richard began researching the Oklahoma City bombing case in earnest in 2012 and is currently writing a book, John Doe #2 and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Richard has appeared on podcasts to discuss his interest in this case, highlighting areas that warrant additional research and expressing the need for more students to actively research this case. In April 2020, Richard donated his archive of research materials—thousands of news reports, articles, magazine pieces, FBI documents, ATF documents, court records and trial transcripts to The Libertarian Institute. You can find this archive here. You may contact Richard at email@example.com
This article was originally featured at Medium.com and is republished with permission.
When I began compiling material for what eventually became “The Oklahoma City Bombing Archives,” I was simply doing background research for a book. Over a period of several years I used commercial databases, libraries, and services that allowed me to scan newspaper and magazine reports, transcripts, and other sources for relevant material.
In addition to standard news media sources, the scope of this research archive expanded after contacting several researchers on this subject and asking for their advice and any materials that might be useful. A number of other researchers contributed additional documents and case material to round out the archive.
As I neared the end of the most intensive period of research, I realized that this archive had grown to include more than enough primary sources to provide any student, journalist, or researcher with an excellent starting point to help kickstart their project.
By my thinking, in the right hands this archive could conceivably contribute to someone writing a stellar non-fiction book, or at least a few articles. In addition, my hope was that this archive might also get people interested in this case when they otherwise might not give the subject any second thought.
With this goal in mind I began strongly considering an effort to bring this research material to the public on a website where anyone could access it, or search it. Thanks to support from fellow researchers and folks at the Libertarian Institute we now have this archive of material available for everyone.
There are so many things in the archive that, for a newcomer, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start, or even know what to look for. It’s with that in mind that we’ll go over some highlights of things in this archive that a person might want to take a closer look at–some of the more interesting feature articles, reports, and documents on the case.
This feature piece from Mother Jones magazine details the death of Kenneth Trentadue. While authorities claim the death was a suicide, and tried to cremate the body, Trentadue’s family prevented the cremation and had the body examined which showed clear signs of beating and torture. An Oklahoma medical examiner’s conclusions support this and mounting details emerged that appear to link Trentadue’s murder to the nationwide manhunt for one of Timothy McVeigh’s accomplices in the bombing, “John Doe #2.”
This report has quotes from a service station mechanic, Mike Moroz, who gave directions to Timothy McVeigh on the morning of April 19, 1995. Moroz said that McVeigh had a passenger in the Ryder truck with him, and he later pointed McVeigh out of a lineup for the FBI. You can read Moroz’s 302 report [here] and see video of Mike Moroz describing the encounter [here (video)]
A great piece from The New Yorker about Oklahoma investigative reporter J.D. Cash’s groundbreaking stories published by the McCurtain Gazette. Cash’s reporting would win him a prize in investigative reporting from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists and two Pulitzer nominations. This is one of the few mainstream media pieces to credit J.D. Cash’s reporting.
This stunning report goes into detail concerning the existence of surveillance camera footage depicting the Oklahoma City bombing. Though the FBI denies any footage exists, this report has details concerning an FBI internal investigation into one Los Angeles FBI agent’s attempt to sell the footage to Dateline: NBC for $1 million. This report, when examined in conjunction with October 1995 FBI documents [here], and [here], confirm the attempted sale.
News media accounts from October 1995 [here, here] confirm the existence of the tapes, showing two passengers in the Ryder truck, and a Secret Service timeline [here] describes what is shown on the footage. Finally, a fall 1995 KFOR-TV broadcast reported and did a recreation of what law enforcement sources said appears on the video [here].
A 1999 FOIA lawsuit revealed that the FBI possessed up to 22 different videos depicting the downtown OKC area [here]. Meanwhile, an internal FBI evidence log [here] states that at least two of those videos show the bombers and/or Ryder truck. Those two videos were taken from The Journal Record Building (designated #Q7) and from the Southwestern Bell building (designated #Q77).
This Newsweek cover story was about an FBI Major Case Undercover Operation dubbed “PATCON.” PATCON targeted white supremacist groups throughout the country in the 1990s, and one of it’s undercover informants, John Matthews, crossed paths with Timothy McVeigh during his time working PATCON. When this piece was published, Newsweek’s editors so heavily sanitized and edited the story that central details concerning Timothy McVeigh were excised from the final story. This is the original copy of this groundbreaking story—as submitted to Newsweek’s editor—before half of the story was gutted. For the redacted, final print edition — without the McVeigh details — click here.
This piece, by investigative reporters J.D. Cash and Roger Charles, details connections between the FBI, a group of white supremacist bank robbers, and Timothy McVeigh. J.D. Cash—and the FBI—began investigating links between the bank robbers and Timothy McVeigh early in the FBI’s investigation.
Washington Weekly contributor and author of The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror, David Hoffman, writes about the disturbing death of Oklahoma City police officer Terry Yeakey. Official reports suggest his death was a suicide, but the details don’t support that conclusion.
In this story, published a day after the bombing, federal judge Wayne Alley says that his office received a warning that some sort of attack might take place on April 19. The threat was so serious that Judge Alley didn’t show up for work that day. What did the feds know about what might happen on April 19? Other early reports detail unspecific ‘threats’ the feds received before the blast [here, here and here].
This is one of the very first news reports to describe a witness who observed a bomb squad truck and personnel in the vicinity of the Murrah building and courthouse in the hours before the bombing. Many of these witnesses’ accounts would later be detailed by the Oklahoma Bombing Investigative Committee’s 2001 Final Report, and would be interviewed by a 1997 grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing. No sufficient explanation has been provided as to why a bomb squad and sniffer dogs would be where they were that morning.
In fact, it appears that the subject of bomb sniffer dogs seen at the courthouse and Murrah building appears to be a very sensitive subject. When U.S. Postal worker Debbie Nakanashi was set to testify before a Grand Jury investigating the bombing, she was told by U.S. Attorney Steve Mullins and Postal attorney John Hollingsworth that she was explicitly barred from speaking about bomb sniffer dogs when she testified before the grand jury (source: interview from transcript U.S. FAIR Justice Act HR4105 07/27/2000 pp 79).
This report details the recollections of Lynda Willoughby, proprietor of the private mailbox business where Timothy McVeigh received his mail. According to Willoughby, the man depicted in the “John Doe #2” sketch picked up McVeigh’s mail once, and that an unidentified Kingman resident picked up McVeigh’s mail 5-6 times. The piece raises the specter of additional accomplices, close enough to McVeigh to pick up his mail for him.
At the end of April 1995, news reports began to surface that said law enforcement sources had surveillance camera footage from Oklahoma City which showed Timothy McVeigh’s Arizona license plate affixed to a second vehicle, widely reported as having been a brown truck. This report says “The videotape from a security camera on a nearby apartment building shows both the Ryder truck believed to have carried the massive bomb and a second vehicle—not the Mercury—bearing the Arizona tag, a federal law enforcement official in Washington said Friday.” Later, the FBI would claim John Doe #2 did not exist, no second vehicle was ever officially identified, and the video footage cited by law enforcement sources here would never surface.
This lengthy LA Times report contains many details, prominent among them the claim that the FBI had located a second vehicle involved in the bombing, and that “authorities think that three vehicles entered Oklahoma for the bombing.”
The report also describes what witness Gary Lewis saw, “two men inside a yellow Mercury Marquis speeding away from the Journal Record building” prior to the bombing. Lewis’ sighting was documented in FBI 302 reports [here, here] and was touted by FBI agent John Hersley in an April 29, 1995 preliminary hearing [here].
This report is interesting as it details a little-known fact that is a key piece of the investigation: a brown pickup truck. The report says that “authorities were trying to enhance the image of a brown pickup truck license plate captured on videotape by a camera in the car of the state trooper who arrested McVeigh.”
An April 20, 1995 FBI teletype stated that “several leads are outstanding relative to a brown pickup” truck [here].
In addition, when McVeigh was pulled over by State Trooper Charlie Hangar, the brown pickup that pulled off to the side of the road in tandem with McVeigh was spotted by at least two witnesses—Kevin Brown [302 report here] saw it, and so did witness Scott Gregory who testified at the Nichols State trial.
As with all of the other videotape evidence in this case that shows possible suspects or vehicles, Hangar’s dashcam footage showing the brown pickup pull over has never been produced.
Virtually every article written by J.D. Cash is worth reading, but this one is included because it dovetails with the previous report concerning a brown pickup truck.
Cash interviewed witness Lea Mohr who just minutes before 9 A.M., circled the Murrah Building waiting for the Ryder truck to leave the handicapped parking spot.
Mohr, upset the handicapped parking space was taken by a non-handicap vehicle, took pictures of the Ryder truck with her disposable camera. According to Mohr, there was a brown pickup truck parked next to the Ryder truck.
This report was explosive—a major turn in the case: a third arrest. However, it would also prove to be one of the most mystifying parts of the whole OKC bombing story. Announcing a third arrest in the OKBOMB case, The Houston Chronicle reported—exclusively–that an Arizona biochemist named Steven Colbern had been “identified” as a suspect in the bombing. The article goes on to say that “Colbern was identified through his brown pickup. It was captured, by chance, on video taken from the state trooper’s car that stopped Timothy McVeigh for speeding” and that Colbern’s truck could be seen pulling over to the side of the road ahead of McVeigh’s vehicle on the dashcam footage.
The most interesting claim in this report is that “sophisticated enhancement techniques were used to improve the video until investigators could read the license plate number.” However, this story makes even less sense when you look at FBI documents from the time. A May 3rd, 1995 airtel from FBI SA Thomas Ravenelle–dated nine days before Colbern’s arrest—states that “COLBERN has been eliminated as a suspect in this matter” [FBI document].
If his license plate was recorded in connection with the bombing, how was he eliminated as a suspect? And if he was eliminated as a suspect, then why was he then arrested a week later? What the hell is going on here? To make matters more confusing, Colbern cooperated with authorities and signed two confusing official statements to the federal government which are, in some parts, nonsensical. In these statements, Colbern admits to having known gun dealer Roger Moore under the alias of “Bob Miller” and further to have spoken with his girlfriend (real name: Karen Anderson) on the telephone, with Colbern oddly saying that the girlfriend also went by “Bob.” Within his two statements Colbern said that he had never personally met Mr. McVeigh, but that he knew of him as “Tim Tuttle” and, curiously, Moore/Miller had told him that “[McVeigh] was a master of making fake license plates.”
Whatever the case may be, Mr. Colbern was eventually released without any charges in connection to the bombing, and where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery to this day.
This news report is one of the first to reference the white separatist community Elohim City in connection to the OKC bombing. The report says that Timothy McVeigh visited the white separatist community and that “the FBI is close to arresting a group of major players” in the OKC bombing investigation.
A senior law enforcement official told Newsweek magazine that “this thing involves husbands and wives as well as children as young as 12.”
Two days later, the spiritual leader of Elohim City, Robert Millar, would hold a press conference denying any connection to McVeigh, and no arrests there would be made.
One day after it’s reported that the FBI is “close to making arrests” in the bombing—in a report alluding to Elohim City— Timothy McVeigh was publicly linked to Elohim City, with this report saying he called the compound on April 5.
This Newsweek piece says that Timothy McVeigh and another man were spotted prowling around federal buildings in Omaha, Nebraska and Phoenix, Arizona, something that was first reported in April. This subject would be touched on again 25 years after the case in an April 20, 2020 report [here] where the ATF’s sketches of the two men were first published.
Another interesting detail is reported in that “for the past year, the ATF and the Army Corps of Engineers have been blowing up car bombs at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico” as part of a project called DIPOLE MIGHT. Curiously, an ATF agent assigned to DIPOLE MIGHT happened to be in Oklahoma City on April 19 and it is reported that within minutes of the bombing, agents trained under DIPOLE MIGHT were at the crime scene. Yet, almost the entire ATF office was vacant that day. Where were these DIPOLE MIGHT agents positioned that morning to appear at the Murrah building within minutes?
This report details two separate encounters with still-unknown accomplices connected to McVeigh. The report says that Terry Nichols, Timothy McVeigh, and an unknown third man with long hair ate lunch together on April 18, 1995 at a Subway in Kansas. The report also details a delivery of Chinese food that was made to McVeigh’s room at the Dreamland Motel by deliveryman Jeff Davis. A sketch was made of the man Davis made the delivery to [here] and Davis insists the man wasn’t McVeigh.
This story is included for the sheer absurdity and shade of inter-agency rivalry. Thomas Constantine, the head of the DEA, says he “amazed” that the FBI hasn’t captured John Doe #2 yet — at May 5 this puts John Doe 2 at large for approximately two weeks.
On October 28, 1995, newspapers across the country reported that surveillance camera footage of the bombing shows two people in the Ryder truck that delivered the bomb. The description of what is on the tape was given by unidentified “law enforcement sources” and matches descriptions provided by witnesses at the scene. This headline is just one of many that ran in papers that week in October. Find more at the Libertarian Institute’s news archive here.
This report concerns Oklahoma City bombing documents that were unsealed in the first week of November 1995, which include details about two witnesses who saw Timothy McVeigh “with another person” leaving the scene of the crime.
This piece details a half dozen witnesses who spotted Timothy McVeigh with an accomplice both in Oklahoma City on the day of the bombing, and in two rural Kansas towns in the days before the blast. The witnesses detailed in this report were interviewed by the FBI, and in some cases they also testified at trial and before a grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing.
This radio broadcast features interviews with witnesses who spotted Timothy McVeigh with John Doe #2. This includes mechanic Mike Moroz, who was interviewed by the FBI several times and pointed McVeigh out of a lineup for the FBI, as well as café owner Barbara Whittenberg, among others.
These witnesses continued to be covered in the press with varying degrees of detail throughout McVeigh and Nichols’ trials where the majority of them were never called to testify as to what they had seen.
This piece is just one of many that detail possible connections between Timothy McVeigh and the white separatist community known as Elohim City. Notably, this article says that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s director, Morris Dees, said that McVeigh had visited Elohim City “several times.” The article also covers details concerning Richard Wayne Snell, who was executed on April 19, 1995, and states that Snell was visited in prison by Elohim City’s Robert Millar “every day, many hours a day” before his execution date and that Snell’s body is buried at Elohim City. This article is one of very few mainstream media pieces to mention German national Andreas Strassmeir, who served as chief of security at Elohim City and was the subject of an ATF undercover investigation, among other things.
In June of 1995, the FBI denied the existence of John Doe #2, asserting that the witnesses all must be wrong. The FBI put forward a theory saying that the witnesses from Elliott’s Body Shop—where the bomb truck was rented—were mistaken about the second suspect and confused him with an Army private who had visited the shop on April 18, the day after McVeigh did.
The problem with that theory, however, is that Eldon Elliott wasn’t at work on April 18 and he remembers seeing McVeigh with another person. This report reveals that federal prosecutors didn’t believe the FBI’s story about Bunting, and that John Doe #2 was still considered to be a suspect. Quoting prosecutor Joseph Hartzler, the piece cites a memo written to defense attorneys which says “the existence and identity of this John Doe II, whom we are confident is not Mr. Bunting, is the subject of a continuing investigation.”
British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard interviewed German national Andreas Strassmeir, who in April of 1995 was serving as “chief of security” at the Elohim City white separatist compound. While Strassmeir denied knowing anything about the bombing, controversial comments he made to Evans-Pritchard seemed to indicate otherwise. Here, Strassmeir is quoted saying “the right-wing in the US is incredibly easy to penetrate if you know how to talk to them. Of course it’s easier for a foreigner with an accent; nobody would ever suspect a German of working for the federal government.” He also suggested that the bombing was some sort of sting operation, which had been penetrated by a government informant: “the ATF had an informant inside this operation. They had advance warning and they bungled it. What they should have done is make an arrest while the bomb was still being made instead of waiting till the last moment for a publicity stunt.” Asked if he thought the alleged informant would ever speak out, Strassmeir replied: “How can he? What happens if it was a sting operation from the very beginning? What happens if it comes out that the plant was a provocateur? What then? The relatives of the victims are going to go crazy, and he’s going to be held responsible for the murder of 168 people? Of course the informant can’t come forward. He’s scared stiff right now.”
This explosive report was followed-up on by J.D. Cash of the McCurtain Gazette, in a May 28, 1996 piece here.
The U.S. media was largely silent on the issue, though a piece did appear in the rural Tennessee newspaper The Tennessean, here.
This short piece details how prosecutors in Timothy McVeigh’s trial decided not to present any eyewitnesses who could place the defendant, Timothy McVeigh, at the scene of the crime.
The FBI had over two dozen witnesses who saw McVeigh in downtown Oklahoma City on the morning of the bombing. One of those witnesses, Mike Moroz, picked McVeigh out of a lineup of people at the FBI’s Oklahoma City command post in the days after the bombing. The most notable thing about these eyewitnesses is that every one of them saw McVeigh with another person. Were no witnesses called to testify because they would have testified that McVeigh wasn’t alone?
Kevin Flynn, and Lou Kilzer. ‘John Doe 2 Remains A Mystery.’ Rocky Mountain News, 3 Mar. 1997.
This piece details numerous John Doe #2 witnesses. Of note is witness Kyle Hunt, an Oklahoma City bank executive who passed a Ryder truck and a Mercury Marquis in traffic as he drove to a meeting in downtown Oklahoma City. Hunt “told the FBI he is certain the car’s driver was McVeigh and that there were two other men in the car.” At least one person had to have been in the truck, making a total of four people. Read Kyle Hunt’s FBI 302 report [here]. Hunt also testified before a grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing in 1997.
A number of reports were published in early March 1997 which linked another suspect to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation. These reports center around a man who went by the name “Robert Jacquez.” Jacquez was spotted with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the fall of 1994, seeking to buy property in the Missouri Ozarks. The man was talked to three witnesses, real estate broker Bill Maloney, his coworker Joe Davidson, and the real estate firm’s secretary. The FBI continued to investigate the man known as “Jacquez” for up to 5 years, never making an identification. Click here to view a sketch of the suspect from the FBI investigation.
Additional reports from March of 1997 on this suspect: CNN, AP, TIME.
This report concerns witness Rodney Johnson. Johnson drove a food delivery truck and on his route drove past the Murrah building every day around 9:00 AM. On the morning of the bombing, Johnson had to slam on the brakes as two pedestrians crossed the street in front of his vehicle, with Johnson getting a good look at both men. Johnson described what he saw to the FBI on the night of the bombing, and described the two men he saw before the FBI sketches were released. He later testified before the 1997 grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing. Read Johnson’s 302 report here.
In mid-January 1998 a number of reports appeared which linked Timothy McVeigh with white supremacists Cheyne and Chevie Kehoe. The Kehoe brothers were on trial, and the manager of The Shadows Motel & RV Park said that McVeigh had visited Kehoe at the motel. Additionally, the motel manager said that on the morning of the bombing, Chevie Kehoe came into the office about 45 minutes before the blast and asked the manager to turn the TV on and put it on the news. When news of the bombing came on, according to the manager, Kehoe began celebrating, saying “it’s about time.” The manager said that “days before that, he had mentioned to me that there’s going to be something happening on the 19 and it’s going to wake people up.”
Many additional reports on Kehoe surfaced that week. Just a few of these reports can be found here, here, and here.
According to this Rocky Mountain News piece by Kevin Flynn, more than 43,000 “lead sheets” and documents were never turned over to the Nichols defense team during his federal trial.
Among these thousands of pages of documents are FBI reports concerning John Doe #2, other suspects, and other vehicles. These reports were written by the FBI during their investigation and should have been provided to the defense team but were withheld.
Just a week after it was first reported that thousands of pages of documents had been withheld from the McVeigh defense team, the Los Angeles Times reports that additional materials had been found that were not turned over.
Many of these documents relate to a suspect known as Robert Jacquez, and consist of 302 reports, lead sheets, and other documents generated during the investigation. Just three days prior to this piece, Fox News reported that many of the withheld documents “pertain to John Doe #2, a suspect who was never identified.”
This report is about a specific FBI document written in early May 1995. That document, written by San Francisco based FBI agent Thomas Ravenelle, says that “the Oklahoma command post has directed all offices to hold Unsub No 2 leads in abeyance.” That is to say, the command post has directed all offices to stop investigating John Doe #2 leads. Less than a month after the bombing, the FBI appears to have halted it’s search for the second suspect, long before announcing that the man “doesn’t’ exist.” Why did the FBI take this action? Is it because they did find out who John Doe #2 was, and like Andreas Strassmeir said, he was an informant? To view the document cited in this piece click here.
There are many more news reports that feature key details concerning the bombing and it would be difficult to cover all of them here, though an effort has been made to highlight reports that have details that are exceptionally noteworthy.
In addition to these reports, it’s strongly recommended that people read all of the reports written by J.D. Cash, published by the McCurtain Gazette. You can find most of those stories at the Libertarian Institute’s archive here.
Richard Booth is an independent researcher who has spent over five years investigating the Oklahoma City bombing. His entire archive is now available exclusively at the Libertarian Institute.
Saturday, April 8th, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and two other men paid a visit to a Tulsa strip club called Lady Godiva’s. The three men were reportedly there for several hours, from around 8 or 9 until around midnight.
The club’s owners were Floyd Radcliffe and his wife, Julie. They had an audio/video security system in the dancer’s prep room and the surveillance system captured a cocktail waitress, Tara, talking to a dancer about her encounter with Timothy McVeigh that very night.
On video, Tara can be overheard telling the dancer all about it:
“One of them said, ‘I’m a very smart man.’ I said’ You are?’ and he goes ‘Yes, I am. And on April 19, 1995, you’ll remember me for the rest of your life!’ I said ‘Oh really?’ and he says ‘Yes, you will.’
Owner Floyd Radcliffe, upon discovering the footage, phoned the FBI who showed up a week or two later and confiscated the film. Oklahoma investigative reporter J.D. Cash had begun his investigation of the event before the FBI arrived. Cash made a copy of the security tape before the FBI got it, knowing that once the FBI got their hands on it, it would probably disappear.
Cash provided the tape to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s news program ‘The Fifth Estate,’ and together they carried out an investigation, interviewing staff at at the club.
The dancers identified Timothy McVeigh from a photo spread as the tallest of the three men, the one who boasted to the cocktail waitress about April 19th.
One of the other men with McVeigh was identified from a photo spread as Andreas Strassmeir. Strassmeir was described as quiet, but easily identifiable due to his buck teeth and German accent. Owner Julie Radcliffe told journalist Jon Ronson that all “the girls identified Strassmeir. They all did identify that gentleman.” Strassmeir has denied he was ever at the club, but the witnesses are certain of it: after all, it isn’t every day in Tulsa, Oklahoma that a stripper talks to a man with a German accent. One could say that’s a rarity, and something that might stand out in ones’ memory.
Likewise, the other man with McVeigh was also identified. He was described as the man paying for the drinks that night, flashing a wad of $100 bills and talking a lot to the girls. That man, described as 5’8 – 5’9, 170-180 pounds, muscular, dark hair, brown eyes, tan complexion, in many ways fit the description of the FBI’s ‘John Doe #2’ suspect. One dancer, stage name ‘Cassie’, told Washington Post reporter Peter Carlson that the man looked like the John Doe #2 sketch. Upon seeing the sketch she said “I recognize him; he’s the one who was sitting in a back booth, talking with other girls.” He too was identified out of a photo spread, described by the dancers as “very good looking, but full of himself.” The dancers all picked out a photograph of Michael Brescia, identifying him as the third man, the one who did the most talking.
At the time, Brescia was Andreas Strassmeir’s roommate and a member of a domestic terrorist organization called ‘The Aryan Republican Army’ which had enriched themselves through a spree of 22 midwestern bank robberies from 1994 to 1996–perhaps explaining the unemployed Brescia’s wad of $100 bills.
As of April of 1995, the FBI had not caught on to the group, and none of the members had yet to be arrested for the series of bank robberies that they carried out across the midwest. These robberies were later cited by law enforcement sources in news reports as having possibly financed the April 19th, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What’s more, an FBI document unearthed later described the domestic terrorist group, to which Brescia belonged, in interesting terms: the gang was referred to by the FBI as ‘McVeigh and his associates.‘
What’s more, Dale Culpepper, the club’s bouncer, remembers spotting a faded older model Ryder truck in the parking lot with its logo painted over. This was before McVeigh had rented the ‘bomb truck’ (on April 17th) but it aligns with other witness sightings who spotted an older, faded yellow truck at Geary Lake between the 10th and the 13th–later that very week–and again at the Dreamland motel on the 14th, 15th, and Easter Sunday the 16th — all before McVeigh rented the larger 20-foot Ryder truck from Elliott’s body shop on Monday the 17th.
Based on numerous witness sightings, it becomes apparent that more than one Ryder truck was used by the bombing’s perpetrators, although what became of the second truck isn’t clear. What is clear, is that people saw it, and it stood out. Just like the three men at the club stood out that Saturday in April.
J.D. Cash published a piece about this story on September 15th, 1996, and the CBC aired the results of their investigation on the CBC news program ‘The Fifth Estate’ in the fall of 1996. By that time, one of the dancers who had identified McVeigh had been found dead in her apartment. Dancer Shawntelle Farrens was found dead in Tulsa the week Cash had begun his investigation, her death ruled a suicide by accidental or intentional drug overdose. The other dancers and cocktail waitresses, however, had gone on record: the men seen with Timothy McVeigh that night were Andreas Strassmeir, and his roommate, Michael Brescia.
Both men would later become central figures in investigative reporters’ efforts to track down just who McVeigh’s accomplices might have been. This encounter, just over a week before the bombing, fits into that puzzle and may shed light on who at least two of those accomplices were.
In the 25 years since the bombing, Andreas Strassmeir has fled the country, moving back to Germany. He’s denied knowing McVeigh, or having visited the strip club, but those denials stand in stark contrast to the memories of the witnesses at the club that night. The most Strassmeir is willing to admit is that he once met McVeigh at a gun show. As evidence of this encounter, Strassmeir produced Timothy McVeigh’s Desert Storm uniform. He bought it from McVeigh for a few bucks. The uniform still had the name-patch on it: “MCVEIGH” in bold letters across the chest pocket.
So too has Michael Brescia slipped away. He was arrested in 1997 for his role in the Aryan Republican Army bank robberies. Brescia cooperated with authorities and was given a comparatively light sentence, serving only five years in prison.
The other members of the bank robbery gang, described by the FBI as ‘McVeigh and his associates’ in an internal memorandum, weren’t so lucky. One man, Richard Guthrie, was found dead in his prison cell the day after telling reporters he was going to write a book about the gang and speak to a grand jury about it’s activities. Another member of the gang, Pete Langan, is serving a life sentence for his role in the robberies.
If anything, the encounter at Lady Godiva’s serves to illustrate a distinct link between Timothy McVeigh and some rather unsavory characters who deserve scrutiny.
Just what was Timothy McVeigh doing with Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir in April of 1995?
* Cash, J.D. “Is A Videotape From A Tulsa Topless Bar The “Smoking Gun” In Oklahoma Bombing?” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 25 September 1996. Print.
* Cash, J.D. “Canadians Air Club Film” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 23 Oct 1996. Print.
* Ronson, John. “Conspirators.” The Guardian, 4 May 2001. Web. 13 Feb 2013.
* “The Company They Keep.” The Fifth Estate. The Canadian Broadcasting Company. 22 October 1996. Television.
* Carlson, Peter. “The Shadow – Did He Ever Really Exist?” Washington Post Magazine. 23 March 1997. Print.
* Jason Van Vleet. “Terror From Within.” MGA Films, 28 August 2002. Television documentary, VHS.
* Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 1997. pp 87-88
Re: Strassmeir and Brescia w/ McVeigh:
“they also picked out Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir from a montage of photos” … “Brescia, they recalled, was very good looking, but full of himself. He was the one paying for the drinks and flashing hundred dollar bills.”
* Ridgeway, James. “Beyond McVeigh: What the Feds Won’t Tell You About Oklahoma City.” The Village Voice, 15 May 2001. Print
* Fritz, Sara and David Savage. “FBI Turns Focus to Unsolved Bank Heists.” LA Times, 28 April 1995. Print.
* “Sister Ties McVeigh to Bank Robbery.” Tucson Citizen, 19 July 1995. Print & Digital.
* “Separatist Admits Role in Robberies.” The Philadelphia Enquirer, 21 May 1997. Print.
* “Ex-Eagle Scout Sentenced in Hate Group Bank Heists.” The Philadelphia Enquirer, 14 March 1998. Print.
* FBI memo describing the Aryan Republican Army as ‘McVeigh and his associates’: FBI Insert E-4206 04 May 1995
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